Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How to make a Honegar


Honegars are a variation of Apple Cider Vinegar tinctures. The nutritive aspect is as important or more than the healing aspect of these home remedies. They are fairly easy to prepare, especially if you're familiar with the art of tincturing "folk medicine" style ;).

I like to use dried plants rather than fresh ones: the reason is that you have a wider range of herbs to choose from and you don't depend on seasons or availability to prepare your tinctures. Yet I understand that the energy and potency given by fresh plant material can be greater if you harvest it yourself and at the right time of the year.

The recipe I'll give is for a 1 cup/8 fl oz container and using dry plant material (feel free to adapt the recipe to fresh herbs if needed). Pick an herb amongst the wide choice of nourishing herbs: the most commonly used are chickweed, dandelion, nettle and dock...Herbs and especially weeds are naturally rich in vitamins and minerals. I chose to tincture rosehips for my honegar. Rosehips are a natural source of vitamin C, combined with the minerals of the apple cider vinegar and the sweetness of the honey, it will be perfect.

In my 8 oz container, I put 1/8 cup of dried organic rosehips on which I poured 1/2 cup/4 fl oz of organic apple cider vinegar. Since vinegar corrodes metallic lids, I added a layer of plastic wrap in between. I will let my rosehips macerate in the vinegar for 1 month, after I'll strain the tincture and I'll add 1/2 cup of (raw) honey to it (you need 1 part herbal tincture to 1 part honey). Stir well and pour in a jar or a bottle. Store in a dark place (or in the fridge). Traditionally Apple Cider Tinctures can be kept for 1 year.

The basic dosage is 1 tablespoon of honegar for 8 oz of water, 1 to 3 times daily. It is delicious, full of nutrition and refreshing!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Luna Teas are back...

It would be foolish to consider the Moon only as a pretty shiny celestial sphere that glows in the darkness of the night. The Moon influences the Earth, Nature and the seasons, the tides, the animals, women's cycles and...each and every one of us on a daily basis. Never wondered why you're feeling energized or exhausted, tense or relaxed? Never wondered why you seem to have trouble sleeping or meaningful dreams during some time of the month? Your ups & downs and emotions evolve with the Moon as it waxes from New Moon to First Quarter and Full Moon, then wanes to Last Quarter and back to New Moon.

We're all made of stardust: the same elements found in the Earth, Stars and Planets are found in our body. How could we possibly deny our connection to Nature and the Universe?

I carry Spiritual, Astrological and Seasonal tea blends (amongst others)...I thought it was the right time to reconnect with Dame Lune and reintroduce my Luna Teas:

-VEILED MOON is a blend of organic green tea, organic dandelion leaves, fennel seeds, cardamom and organic orange peel. A tea to enjoy around and between the New Moon to the First Crescent. This tea has a detoxifying, stimulating and invigorating effect on the body. AVOID DURING PREGNANCY.

-FIRST CRESCENT is a 100% organic blend of green rooibos, nettle, oatstraw, ginger, rosehips and orange peel. A tea to enjoy during the waxing phase of the Moon: between the First Quarter, through the First Quarter and when the Moon is almost full. This tea has a strenghtening and fortifying effect on the body. It also allows for a better absorption of food and nutrients.

-BRIGHT MOON is a blend of organic lemon balm, organic raspberry leaves, organic oatstraw, coriander seeds and organic calendula. A tea to enjoy around and during the Full Moon. This tea has a calming, nourishing and harmonizing effect on the body. AVOID DURING PREGNANCY, BREASTFEEDING AND IF YOU HAVE THYROID PROBLEMS.

-LAST CRESCENT is a blend of organic green tea, organic peppermint, wildcrafted white sage, organic nettle and organic dandelion leaves. A tea to enjoy during the waning phase of the Moon: between the Last Quarter, through the Last Crescent to around the New Moon. This tea has a nourishing, detoxifying and purifying effect on the body. AVOID DURING PREGNANCY.

-BLUE MOON is a 100% organic blend of white tea, lavender, cornflowers and bilberries (European blueberries). A magical tea for a magical time. This tea has a soothing, relaxing and calming effect on the body. USE SPARINGELY DURING PREGNANCY.

You can find my Luna Teas under my shop, I freshly blend them upon request :) : http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=36753&section_id=5096792

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Confessions of a Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley


I'm not usually into historical novels but I was naturally drawn to the theme of this book. The story takes place in Celtic Ireland as its tuaths (tribes, clans) are converted to the new faith: Christiany. The old ways being replaced by new ones in order to improve people's lives. We often forget, in our modern comfort, how harsh were the lives of the ones who walked this Earth before us. We forget that they were at the mercy of famines, diseases, floods, harsh winters...etc. These hard living conditions are intertwined with the story told in this novel.
The narrator, Gwynneve, who was brought up in the old ways, has become a nun in a monastery dedicated to Saint Brigit. She is one of few literate women and her task is to transcribe scriptures from St Patrick and St Augustine in the loneliness of her cold and damp clochan (a beehive-shaped cell made of stone). Even though she embraced Christianity, she admits that there were some truths in her old pagan beliefs and questions some things of her new faith that she's seen, read and heard in the monastery (page 22 "I have read and transcribed our bishops' rules that say women must not try to be attractive to men but must scorn the qualities in themselves that cause men to fall from grace. It has puzzled me that men, who claim more and more authority over women, show such fear of those whom they call weak. Perhaps they are hoping that women will come to believe that they need to be protected and dominated, but I cannot imagine any woman being so foolish.").
She misses her freedom as a woman, the teachings of her wise mother who knew about the healing herbs (page 5 "She worshipped not God but what He created, and she knew plants well but not as a scholar. The tonsured men were not yet here to give the plants their Latin names: fraechoga (woodberries), crem (wild garlic) and birer (watercress). When there was sickness in the tuath, many were glad to see my mother's slender feet walk the mud paths between huts with her bundles of herbs."), the knowledge and wisdom of her druid teacher...
I am only half way through the book and can hardly put it down. Some people might think that the style is heavy but it is in the Celtic Nature to be descriptive and poetic at the same time. I can only recommend this novel warmly and will complete this review once I finish the book.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Become Lady Marmelade...

We're slowly moving closer to the summer and already the markets are covered with berries and summer fruits. The garden also provides the first strawberries and a myriad of edible herbs. If you like foraging, Nature is generous to the ones who know where to look...:)
Enjoy everything, fresh or cooked, while you can. Some edibles have a very short growing season. If you align your diet with seasonal produces (what we should all do since our ancestors had no other choice), you know that winter isn't as bountiful. Why not preserve a little bit of spring or summer to enjoy during the winter months? The simpliest way is to make jams and jellies...You too can become Lady Marmelade :).

MORELLO CHERRY & VANILLA JAM
3 1/2 cups sugar (vanilla sugar if you have)
1 vanilla bean
3 lb morello cherries (or any type of cherry available to you)
the juice of 2 lemons or 1 1/4 cups or red or white currant juice

Dissolve the sugar in 1 1/4 cups of water over a low heat, then bring to a boil. Add the vanilla bean and the cherries. (If you have time, pit the cherries and add the buised pits to the misture in a muslin bag). Boil for 15 minutes, then leave to cool overnight. The following day add the lemon or currant juice and boil until setting point is reached. Remove the bag of pits and the vanilla bean, pour the jam into warm jelly glasses, seal and cover.

ROSE PETAL JAM
1 lb (12 cups) red rose petals (grown without pesticide, don't use roses from a flower shop)
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup honey
the juice of 2 lemons

Collect the petals from unsprayed, scented roses and snip off the bitter white heels. They can be collected over several days and stores in a covered jar, sprinkled with lemon juice. Simmer the petals in a little water until tender, then stir in the sugar, honey and lemon juice and cook until the syrup is thick. Pour into warmed jelly glasses and seal.

These 2 recipes where selected from the following book: "The Complete Book of Herbs & Spices" by Sarah Garland

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Rose Hand Cream Recipe

This is a simple, naturally scented cream that softens and moisturizes the hands.
You'll need:
1 tsp beeswax
1/4 tsp honey
2 oz/4 tbsp almond oil
2 oz/4 tbsp rosewater

1/Put the beeswax, honey and almond oil in a glass jar standing in a small pan of hot water. Stir until melted and blended.
2/Stir vigorously pouring in the rosewater. Take the jar out of the water and continue to stir gently until the mixture has cooled.

What the recipe doesn't say is that you should pour the cream, when it's still warm, in a 4 oz jar. This is a basic recipe that you can customize using your favorite oil(s), infused oils will do too. Rosewater can be replaced by orange blossom water or any floral water/hydrosol. Be creative and don't be afraid to experiment...This is your hand cream :).




For more herbal recipes (natural beauty, culinary or tea), I recommend "The Complete Book of Herbs" by Andi Clevely and Katherine Richmond

Friday, May 11, 2007

Portrait of an Artisan: For the Love of Patchouly

Daphne blends perfume oils. She's been perfecting that art for the past 10 years! Daphne also has a passion for the exotic patchouli and shares her passion for this scent through her creations. But not all her perfume oils contain patchouli...As a matter of fact 2 of my favorite blends don't contain any patchouli (don't be mistaken, I do not dislike patchouli).

I was really impressed by the quality of her fragrances, they stay on the skin all day. I really love Amber (probably my all time favorite) so I was naturally drawn to the exotic KUNDALINI: a rich blend of 3 ambers, frankincense, morrocan myrrh and black opium.

My other favorite is OSHUN, though I'm not too much into light floral scent...My husband seems to like it too :). Oshun is the name of an Orishan water-goddess who reigns over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth and diplomacy. It's a feminine & sexy blend of orange blossom, muguet du bois and Moroccan rose floating on a base of white amber and white sandalwood.

Daphne also has many patchouli blends, one of her best sellers being a unisex scent named HIPPIE LOVE which is an earthy blend of Indian patchouli, white musk, ginger and and amber. There is no limit to creativity and I truely recommend trying her natural and affordable perfume oils, you won't be deceived.

http://patchouly.etsy.com

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Chakra Dance Flow: Movement Meditation (bellydance, freestyle, guided meditation)



Chakra Dance Flow is not a traditional workout, no past pace or sweat building repetitive movements. Chakra Dance flow is a meditative dance workout that combines elements of yoga and bellydance and uses the system of the 7 chakras as guidance in energy work.

It is a relaxing and uplifting journey to reconnect with your inner self, the Universe and the Goddess. It will allow you to be aware, unblock and open each of the 7 chakras (individually or all together) and let energy flow. This guided meditation reconnects the physical with the emotional and the spiritual. It helps reawakening energy centers, releasing tension and anxiety and reclaiming inner balance.

I appreciated the fact that elements of meditation and spiritual work were brought up and integrated in the workout, such as : clearing, energizing, centering and grounding. Also energy being the flowing life force within and around us, it was refreshing to see slow, gracious, flowing moves, the integration of sound, the consciousness of breath and the awareness of the elements.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Herbal Recipe: Elderflower Champagne

This is a recipe I've been wanting to try for some time now (just need to buy some nice corked bottles first). Though it's called champagne, it's not a real champagne since it's a non-alcoholic drink. There is a natural substance in the flower heads that makes this drink fizz.

Before starting, you'll need to harvest fresh elderflower heads. Just make sure you know how to identify the tree: any mistake could be toxic if not lethal. Stay away from the cone shaped flower heads of the red elder tree...the flowers and berries are poisonous.

"This delicious, effervescent summer drink has a flavor reminiscent of muscatel wine.

RECIPE:

-4.5 litres/1 gallon/20 cups water (you may want to use good spring water and not tap water)

-500g/1 1/4 lb sugar

-6-8 fresh elderflower heads

-2 lemons, sliced

30ml/2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/Heat half the water to just below boiling point and add the sugar. Stir to dissolve, add the rest of the water and leave to cool. Add the remaining ingredients and leave to stand for 24-48 hours. 2/Strain into strong glass bottles and cork tightly. The drink will be ready to serve in about six days."

For more herbal recipes, I recommend the following book: "Herbal Tea Remedies - Tisanes, Cordials and Tonics for Health and Healing" by Jessica Houdret

Celebrate Mothers Day under the sign of the Rose...

You may ask why the Rose? Well, Roses and Rosewater have been used through the millenniums for religious ceremonies, as a courtesy to guests, for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. There is no other flower that is so closely associated with love, beauty, health and feminity. The Rose is a flower that is universally appreciated by women for its beauty, its uses and its scent. No other flower has been as celebrated as the rose in art, poetry or even music. My mother likes roses (like most mothers or so I think). Thus I thought it was very appropriate to celebrate Mothers (and Mothers-to-be) with roses in my products. Some of them are brand new and specially concoted just for the occasion:

-Moroccan Rose Face & Body Lotion is all natural and hand blended with Moroccan virgin argan oil, true Moroccan rosewater (distilled with Damask roses), organic aloe vera gel, unrefined cocoa butter and unrefined beeswax. It's non greasy and moisturizes the skin all day long...plus this lotion leaves the skin very silky :). http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=5915480

-Mon Amie La Rose Face Cream is hand blended with true Moroccan rose water (distilled with Damask roses), Moroccan virgin argan oil and unrefined beeswax. The texture is much lighter than most of my creams so that it can be used even by combination skin types. With this cream, you'll agree that the Rose is a true friend of your skin. http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=5914253

-Rose Kiss Balm is handcrafted with organic extra virgin olive oil infused with pesticide-free rose petals and/or rose geranium leaves, unrefined beeswax and honey. Only pure natural goodness for your or your mom's lips...Plus the tin is ornated with a pretty ribbon rose :). http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=5817082

-Timeless Tea is one of my favorites. It's a gentle and feminine blend of organic white tea, pesticide-free rose petals and organic lavender. http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=5765440

-Moroccan Rose is a dreamy and exotic blend of organic jasmine green tea and pesticide-free rose petals. A delight for the senses. http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=5682975

-Thé à l'églantine aka Rosehip tea is more traditional yet not less tasty than the teas above. It's a blend of organic black tea, organic rosehips, pesticide-free rose petals and organic cloves. http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=5785258

Please feel free to contact me if:
-You have any question.
-You wish me to list an item specially for you.
-You wish to place an order but not through Etsy.
-You wish me to prepare a special gift bag with some of the items mentioned above and list it (or not) on Etsy.
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